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Project Details - University Square Stratford


Project Spotlight -


Designed by Make Architects, London.

(Delivered in a design and build contract by VolkerFitzpatrick in association with AWW Architects.)


Shackerley’s ceramic granite ventilated cladding has provided the outer envelope for a new £33 million landmark university building in the heart of London’s East End. University Square Stratford provides a new academic and educational hub with the capacity to cater for over 3000 students attending Birkbeck, University of London and the University of East London (UEL). The new building was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal, Chancellor of the University of London on November 5.

Design Requirements

The brief called for a flexible multi-functional building providing a wide range of facilities under one roof for the two institutions. The development was to bring together lecture theatres, dance spaces, music rooms, teaching rooms, large presentation rooms and open-plan spaces in one architecturally striking and coherent building, confident of its shared purpose and with distinct place-making qualities.

Completing the eastern end of the vibrantly emerging Stratford Cultural Quarter, the building was intended to strengthen the pedestrian route through the area and create a more engaging public realm.

To give the building a feeling of permanence and longevity the architects were keen to use premium quality cladding materials.

The building was to exemplify modern sustainable design and achieve a BREEAM rating of Excellent.

Materials Used

Make responded with a bold and expressive design, comprising clearly defined interlocking blocks which articulate the internal functionality and organisation of space. Single extruded cantilevers on each side and double-height roof structures add to its distinctive angular geometry.

For the external envelope, Make specified 2500m² of Basilicata BS22 (LG) and Basilicata BS22 (Lev) ceramic granite panels in a 1200x600mm format. Design Architect James Taylor commented on the contrast of highly polished and naturally textured finishes: “We envisaged the building as a single rock-like element that has been carved to create the overall form (expressed with the textured panels) which has then had its most outer faces honed or polished (expressed with the glossy reflective panels). The addition of patinated gold coloured metal panelling acts as a relief to the ceramic granite surfaces, catching the light like flecks of precious stone within a granite rock.”

The panels were installed using the Sureclad Access System and this allowed for effective external thermal and acoustic insulation to be installed in the cavity behind the facade.

Other environmentally friendly features include rainwater harvesting, rooftop habitats to increase biodiversity and over 700m² of photovoltaic panels. These panels were not only positioned in large arrays on the roof of the building: the versatility of Shackerley’s Sureclad carrier support system allowed for them to also be incorporated into the façade elevations in planarity with the surrounding ceramic granite.